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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
An enjoyable project! After a much too long absence, me old blog favourite Bill Barol is back, only now he is known as "Mr. Irresponsible," and to make me even more jealous, he's been published. However, in the manner of great guys everywhere, he sent me an advance copy of his book,"Mr. Irresponsible's Bad Advice," which I am well pleased to read. I will let you all know what it's like, and why you should probably all just buy copies for yourselves. You might want to check out Mr. Irresponsible's Tips for Surviving the Holidays. They're just as applicable to Canadian Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter/Family Reunions.
A Nearly Perfect Weekend, with Two Small Hiccups: Finally, FINALLY, at my Meisner class on Friday night, I made the instructor cry. With laughter. I had devised an improv where I was getting ready for a date, naturally in a panic, and thus doing everything clumsily. My preparation was that it had been years since I'd gone on a date, and I wanted to make a good impression. Everything I did turned out poorly. Putting on nylons after I'd put on my dress (a bad idea). Spraying perfume into the air and getting it into my eyes. Getting lipstick on my teeth. What made the improv work was that I was completely unaware of the audience, which meant that at last I was working completely honestly (and has been quite some time since my last date). It was an unbelievable feeling. When my improv partner came into the scene to try and distract me from what I was doing with a task of his own, the comic potential spiked immediately. So: it may have taken me 23 classes, but at last I saw a glimmer of why the Meisner Technique really works.
What makes Jane a good rider: riding a great horse. I got to try out a new horse for my riding lesson on Saturday, a beautiful American Saddlebred mare, as yet unnamed, whose gaits were as smooth as velvet. Of course I fell in love immediately. Dear Santa: how about it?
The last Scene Study class was Saturday afternoon, and it was a bit of a gong show where Jenessa and I were concerned. We had done three or four run-throughs of our lines prior to class, and I was confident we were going to get through our performance without a hitch. But Jenessa's nerves kicked in and she forgot a substantial portion of her lines, so our first attempt was dismal. Aaron (the instructor) told us to go with the frustration and try again. It was like the old rule of "bad dress rehearsal equals good show," because our second performance was spot on. I got a rush of adrenaline at one point that made what's left of my hair stand on end.
Hiccup No. 1: I left the Scene Study class only to discover that someone had smacked my van while it was parked on 17th Avenue. The other driver had obligingly left a note with her phone number, and a postscript that "the damage to her van was much worse than to mine!" Oh, well. Off to Fearless's humble casa, since she is making me dinner. But first, a little medication, as we are feeling like our muscles are going to splinter into shards. Hmm. Dinner is wonderful, Fearless's Thai pork on noodles, and now we'll spend the evening playing guitar. Except for one sub-hiccup, the fact that I've forgotten my guitar. Oh well, I'll just fall asleep in front of a movie, then. Thanks, F.
Sunday morning I took the dog to a local flyball competition, where I was nearly deafened by the barking and yelping of the competitors and their owners. I think old Piper will like flyball, as long as she's on a team with Jack Russell Terriers, and there are many liver treats. I will like flyball as soon as I invest in a pair of ear protectors.
Next, the quest for "melokhia" leaves, or Egyptian Mallow, or Tunisian Jute, or "molokhiya," as my sis-in-law Alayne wants to make a nourishing soup from it for her convalescent mom. I find it in a charming Mediterranean deli near my place, and buy about 5 pounds. On the way to Red Deer, my muscles start aching madly again, and I feel oddly lightheaded. Uh-oh. Hiccup No. 2. By the time I reach my sis-in-law's house, I am shaking with cold and utterly exhausted. Upshot: not content with a cold and bout of asthma, I now have the flu and a raging fever. Blah, blah, blah. Back to doctor on Monday, back on Wrath-of-Jehovah-strength antibiotics for the weakling lungs, yadda yadda yadda. It's November. Whaddya' gonna' do?
Friday, November 25, 2005
A Short Note on Jealousy: I first met Calgary actor Kira Bradley back in January of 2000, when she and I were part of the same Ghost River Theatre "Advanced Storytelling" workshop. Since that time, whenever I went to any theatrical performance, it was inevitable that Kira Bradley would be part of it, whether as an actor, listed in the program, or volunteering at the venue. I soon began referring to her as "The Ubiquitous Kira Bradley," and was never at all surprised when I'd turn on CBC Radio and hear her reading something creative, or see her on local television discussing Calgary theatre awards. This week she showed up on my friend Lori's blog, since she read Lori's work at the Alberta Anthology launch. Kira Bradley is everywhere! I say each time.
It kills me to do it, but okay. I confess. I am horribly, horribly jealous of Kira Bradley and her goddamned inexhaustible talent. Kira, you deserve every kudo you get. Ignore assholes like me.
Pilates, Jane Style: Recline on floor to start working on those abdominal muscles, following the instructors on the Pilates DVD. Push dog away. While on back, extend both legs along the floor, accidentally kicking cat. Attempt to follow the supine bicycling exercise. Push dog away with right foot to stop her licking toes. Return to a sitting position. Slowly lower yourself back onto cat, who has discovered that there's a warm spot on the floor where you'd been lying. Goody, time for side exercises! During leg circles, kick over stack of books. Switch onto other side, and this time kick over stack of dishes. Cough guts out. Push dog out of face again. Now lie prone, and attempt to lift your legs off the floor, clacking heels together in rapid movements. Stub toe on chaise longue.
Epilogue: the precursor to a successful Pilates workout would seem to be a rearrangement of furniture, a sequestering of pets, and a cleanup of stacked crap. NOW WE KNOW.
Monday, November 21, 2005
We fear no sheep. Piper passed her herding instinct test yesterday afternoon. I thought it would be a more involved process, but all that happened was that I showed up at the farm, handed over the waiver and a cheque, let Piper loose in a small sheep paddock, watched her run circles around the sheep, and voilà! she's got instinct. I guess I could have saved myself some money; I mean, I've known for over a year that she likes to chase livestock. Anyway, the next step is to get her enrolled in a herding clinic. That is, if I decide I really need a trained herding dog in Calgary.
Apparently the Australian Shepherds were the stars of the afternoon, outshining even the Border Collies. The lone Rottweiler turned out to be afraid of the sheep and was a washout.
Contraindicated in the normal recovery from a bad cold: sleeping under the stars in late November. But that's what I ended up doing on Saturday night. Fearless and I got in the mood for a drive in the country, but it had been a long day for me, and when we decided to get out and watch the stars for awhile, I dropped off to sleep and provided a snoring soundtrack to her book. Hey: friendship with me has these magical moments.
Bad, bad Jane. Saturday morning, I am trying to get to my scene study partner's place for a quick rehearsal before class. But I am driving through downtown, and not only are certain key streets shut down by construction, but there's a damned Santa Claus parade going on. Drivers are panicking all over, and pulling incredibly stupid stunts like turning around in the middle of a one-way avenue and forcing everyone to a standstill. A half-hour later, I have had enough, and start yelling at the parade-goers who are blithely walking into traffic, "He's not REAL!" I doubt anyone heard me, or if they did hear, I doubt they made any sense of my words.
Scene Study ends next Saturday, and it's been an enlightening experience. Being paired with a first-time actor seemed daunting at first, but Jenessa has proved to be great fun. Having a classmate with Down Syndrome has provided the occasional challenge, as Don [not his real name] tends to clown around throughout the class. He's a nice kid, though, so the rest of us tend to overlook his "performances." Out of the entire class, only Jenessa and I have our lines mostly memorized, which surprised me, since according to the homework we were all supposed to be off book by the third class. But then every class I've taken at Company of Rogues threatens to expel people if they miss classes without excuse, and people bail all the time.
Fatherly Fly-by. Mad Melvin is in the province at present, and has e-mailed to ask if I'm free for dinner tomorrow night. He has had a typical visit wherein he spends a couple of days each with the brothers, then a quick stop-in with me. I'm not complaining anymore--this is just the way it is. He's still not convinced that I'm no longer on Death's doorstep, so the selection of restaurant could prove to be tricky. "Are you sure you can eat this stuff? I would have thought it was too spicy," etc. I think I'll take him for Indian food and relieve him from the need for conversation with an extra-spicy vindaloo.
Friday, November 18, 2005
A Test of the Instincts: On Sunday I'm taking the dimwitted little dog out to a farm east of Calgary, where she will proceed to either (a) herd goats instinctively or (b) bark ferociously at the goats from the other side of the fence. When I first signed Piper up for the herding instinct test, I thought, hey, just put a bunch of toddlers in the pen, and no problem! But goats? Sheep? I have no idea what she'll do when confronted with the animals she is actually supposed to herd.
And then I don't quite know what to do if she turns out to be a champion herder. I live in a condo in Calgary, a habitat not normally known for its meandering livestock. Not having children, I thought I'd escaped the weekend routine of taxiing kids from sport to sport, lesson to lesson. Perhaps I'm about to be a herding mom. Heavens forfend.
Three days after my first yoga session and there are parts of my carcass that are still swearing at me. I joked that "Ashtanga" was onomatopoeic, in that it's the sound my hip flexors made as I attempted to get into the Warrior pose. Actually I'm fairly flexible for an old bag, but my abdominal muscles were not prepared for the stretching they took. In an effort to stay limber, I tried to follow along with a TV yoga program last night, but they were all scrawny girls with excellent hair, and I soon became disheartened. But never say die! Jeano gave me a beginner's Pilates DVD for those pesky abdominals, and if I start a weekly routine, I may be able to convince my belly not to clap along during my riding lesson. Yes, I am indeed looking forward to my tummy tuck, which should take place some time in the next 12 months. I may save up the shekels to get two other slackers taken care of at the same time. Yes, those. The "knee warmers." With that, I leave you to your weekend.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
My older brother, or "Big Bruddah," as I choose to call him despite his social standing and gravitas, turns 44 on Monday. Forty-four was how old my mother was when she died. I'm aware that it's not exactly breaking new ground in profundity to say it, but 44 is young to me now. Now that I'm only two years away from it, that is. I would just like to remind the fates that I get to go first, before the ones I love, and especially before the brothers. Don't tell me that such an arrangement would be entirely too much unlike life. Just make it happen, and incidentally, if you can see your way to having me wink out in mid-sentence, or in mid-guffaw, that'd be swell.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The sum of all insanity: Last Tuesday, thanks to Fearless, I went to see another production by the same theatre troupe that killed me in January 2002, "Spymonkey." This time their show was called "Cooped," a parody of gothic romance that mixed vulgarity and surreality with various media. Once again, I laughed until I thought I would burst a major artery. Until my lungs wheezed in protest and my abdominal muscles went into contracture. Spymonkey only comes to Canada every few years, and had Fearless not been on the ball, I would have missed them. As it is, I just want to drop everything and be a Spymonkeyhead, following them around the world as they give workshops on clowning to students, causing apoplectic fits of laughter in every culture.
Janey's first gymkhana, awww! and she comes home with two first place ribbons and two second place. This is because she is in the oldest age group, called the "Jack Benny" class for some reason, and there is only one other rider to compete against. I find the Jack Benny thing quite funny, and keep saying "Rochester!" throughout the afternoon to the amusement of absolutely no one.
I also experienced another test of the emergency "do not kill" system when a petulant 6-year-old and her dimwit dad tried to boss me around in the stabling area. I had shown up early to help out -- catch, brush and saddle the horses and ponies and so forth. I was saddling a very sweet mare named Ginger when the mouthy kid showed up. "THAT'S not the saddle I use!" she said by way of not charming me instantly. I pointed out that she wasn't going to be the only one riding Ginger, and carried on with the saddling. Cue dimwit dad: "The reins are too long for my daughter!" he said. I checked them; they were standard length reins. I said as much to the dimwit. "No, can't you see the reins are too long?" he said, pointing at the stirrups. Ah. I had to resort to using snap-on stirrups that were still not short enough to satisfy the mouthy kid. "Can't you get other ones?" she snapped. And so did I, as I proceeded to inform her and the dad that I was there to help out, not to get yelled at for something I couldn't change. Bring back spankings, is what I say.
Despite the kid, though, it was a hugely enjoyable afternoon, and at last my riding seems to be improving.
If it's November, there must be a rhinovirus up my nose: yep, despite all the vitamins and minerals I eat daily, somehow a rogue virus breached the defences. Here's hoping we can fight it off before it reaches the turncoat lungs, because I'm damned if I'll spend another month barking my guts up.
The drawback to being a textbook gastric bypass patient: textbook hair loss. Apparently, for the majority of bypass patients, hair loss happens somewhere between the fourth and ninth month post-surgery. Sure enough, I am losing scads of hair with every shower, and even running my fingers through my hair results in 10 or so strands each time. My part is getting wider and wider; in the right light I can see straight from my forehead to my crown. I'm taking biotin supplements to forestall total baldness, but so far I don't notice any slowdown in the shedding. The good thing is that the hair loss is not supposed to be permanent. But you know, if it is, oh well. Hair schmair.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Tag the dog: I went to get the dog on Monday night only to discover that the daycare pranksters had painted her blue--well, her white fur, anyway--with aerosol tinted powder. They'd also gelled hair on her head into a mohawk. One of my many nicknames for Piper is "the punk," and I guess it caught on.
Scene rehearsals proceed apace, but I'm a little worried that my partner, who is as clean-cut as they come, may not be believable as a former crack addict and prostitute who's battling the system to get her child back. Then again, it's still early days, and I'm sure she'll be able to bring herself to scream the F-bomb at me soon enough. Right now, when the dreaded F-word comes up in the script, she drops her voice to a whisper and just sort of jumps over it. She also has a great deal more lines to memorize than I do, so first things first.
The other acting class is still, dismayingly, unbelievably hard, and this is the second time I've taken it. I'm starting to wonder if the instructor has formed the opinion that I'm no good at the Meisner Technique, or (I hope) she thinks I'm capable of much better work and is not going to let up on me. Fearless says I always think my teachers hate me, which is Fearless-speak for "shut up, you're boring me."
Try not to barf on the clients. A swanky lunch on Tuesday. I'm breaking the tiny tum law of no food combined with drinking, and have sneaked a few tiny nibbles of cheese while I'm sipping my wine. The service is on the slow side, so I'm sure I'll be all right by the time my meal arrives. I am once again wrong, and have stupidly chosen to sit in the middle of the table, against the wall, so that when I do have to bolt for the can, I make four people stand up to get out of my way. Brilliant move. Then I cannot eat anything when I return--at least not for 10 minutes. "You don't like the food?" asks the waiter. "Is everything all right?" asks the client-host. Oh, yes, everything's fine, except that I have the impulse control of a toddler these days. Which is how I came so perilously close to buying a horse last Sunday, until Jean booted some sense into my head.
I have one day to write three ads about GPS engines. I am screwed.